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Trending Appliances: The New Heat Pump Dryer in Europe

ByMarc Silberberg

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Don and Patty are two seniors who live in a condo and are looking to finally do their laundry in their own home. Until now they have been going to the laundromat near their home to wash their clothes, linen, and towels. However, they are tired of schlepping to and from the laundromat especially now that the weather is getting cold. This couple have been saving up money for a vacation, but it doesn’t look like this will be happening in the near future so as many homeowners are doing this last year and a half, they have decided to put money into their home which has been their main place of occupation lately.

As they do not have a separate laundry room, Patty and Don realized that the best option would be stackable washer and dryer units. Recently they have read about a new type of dryer that has become popular in Europe, called the heat pump dryer. They are cautious about purchasing a new washer and dryer as they have heard horror stories of dangerous venting issues. They also like the idea of being energy efficient and they have heard some favorable reports about the lower temperatures and electricity usages with these new dryers. They are questioning if this new technology will work for them.

As the world gets “greener” we are encouraged by the media and some greener neighbors to try to do our part to keep the world from warming up. Those of us who are of the senior citizen generation felt that we were doing our part to reduce our electricity costs and raise the efficiency of our clothes dryers by changing from electric to gas sources. Now we are told to do the opposite, go back to electricity since it can be powered by solar energy and other types of “green” power.

Another trending innovation for us to swallow is a new type of clothes dryer called the heat pump dryer. We must deprogram ourselves from believing in only traditional types of clothes dryers and educate ourselves about an alternate way to dry our clothes. Besides being energy efficient these dryers are less likely to cause fatal dryer fires which are the cause of accidental deaths each year in America. This is a very important reason for switching to a heat pump dryer.

How Does a Heat Pump Dryer Function?

Although many of us do not know exactly how an air conditioner or refrigerator works, let’s try to understand the mechanics in relation to heat pump clothes dryers. A traditional dryer uses resistance heating elements which will heat the air in the drum and push out the moisture with the heat through the duct going to the outside of the house. A heat pump dryer uses a refrigerant-filled coil with a compressor to heat the air inside the clothes dryer. When the moisture from the clothes is removed, the air will flow into a cold evaporator coil and the water collects into some type of pan. Since the air itself is not being sent outside through the vent, it is reused by being reheated and recirculates in the dryer drum. There are two ways to get rid of the water. Some models have water draining draws and the owner must be sure to remove the water after each cycle, or another option is installing a draining hose that drains into the sink or into a floor drain.

What Are the Advantages of Heat Pump Dryers?

1) They are ventless: This is especially important for residents of apartment houses where it is difficult to install an outdoor vent. Some of these residences must have their dryers vented through the roof which makes these vents difficult to clean. With a heat pump dryer there is water as opposed to exhaust air. This is a practical bonus since the owner will not have to pull out the dryer periodically to clean out the exhaust pipe. Additionally in certain residences such as condos that do not have anywhere to vent other than inside the home, the cost of air conditioning being affected by the heat of the dryer is a factor in buying into this new dryer. technology.

2) They are energy-efficient: Heat pump clothes dryers use up to 50% less energy than conventional dryers because the heat pump needs less electricity to run. Energy Star gives these heat pump dryers their highest ratings and in some states rebates our available (according to Energy Star the refrigerant and condenser coils make these dryers at least 28% more energy-efficient than standard dryers).

3) The clothes will be less wrinkled: By not adding heat, the heat pump dryers are easier on the clothes by keeping the clothes tumbling after they are dried. Hot air can damage and shrink delicate clothing and money is saved by not having to buy new clothes that were ruined in the dryer.

4) Some models can run on 120-volt, 15-amp electrical circuits: For example, Miele has such a model although you do have to be careful to use the dryer’s outlet exclusively for this appliance since it will not run if anything else is plugged into the outlet. People who own homes with old wiring will be able to run this dryer through their old electrical outlets.

5) Heat pump dryers are safer: A conventional dryer owner should not leave the house while their dryer is running. Because the heat pump dryer runs on lower temperatures it is safe to leave it on when leaving the house or going to sleep.

6) Most of these dryers are smaller than conventional ones: Compact designs can be installed in tight spaces or stacked with a streamlined washing machine.

What are the Disadvantages of Heat Pump Dryers?

1) Heat pump dryers take longer to dry the laundry: Since they use lower temperatures, these dryers can take almost twice as long as conventional dryers to dry the clothes. Although these dryers have been around in Europe, the technology is relatively new. This means that if you are drying a towel load it will take significantly longer time to dry in comparison to the classic dryer.

2) Most models are not large enough to dry the loads of large capacity washing machines: Presently, there is only a seven cubic foot model which is the Whirlpool Model WHD560CHW which sells for about $1300. A conventional dryer such as a Whirlpool 7- cubic-foot model is about $700 less in price. Even though you can save as much as $75 a year on electricity you will not come out ahead in your yearly energy savings.

3) Most heat pump models have heat pump coils at the bottom: These coils must be cleaned with a vacuum or good cleaning brush at least every 30 days. This is in addition to removing the lint from a usual lint filter. The cleaning of this bottom filter is very important for the efficiency of the machine so a new heat pump dryer owner must be diligent about this additional clean-up.

4) Water needs to be drained: The heat pump dryer has an evaporator which removes moisture from the air during drying. Some manufacturers provide a drain hose or a simple draw on the front of the dryer. Another option to be checked out is installing an apparatus that will let the heat pump dryer use the clothes washer drain to get rid of the water.

Conclusion

Some people like to leave well enough alone. When shopping for a replacement washer or clothes dryer, they are not even interested in purchasing one of the newer front-loading washers. There is nothing as soothing as grabbing a freshly dried warm towel from the dryer to bundle up your child after their bath. No matter how warm you make the bathroom, there is always a change in temperature when the child leaves the bathroom only to run under their covers before they are completely dry.

On the other hand, apartment dwellers who are limited on space and venting venues, may find these new heat pump dryers a blessing. Although mostly smaller than conventional dryers, if they are paired with energy efficient washers that take longer to complete a washing cycle, they could be a good team. There will be less waiting for the dryer if the washer takes longer and some of these have really good spinners which remove much of the moisture even before going into the dryer.

For those people who are concerned about global warming, a heat-pump-dryer may be the answer. People who want to go green will be more patient and wait longer for their clothes to dry. Any small act to save our planet is taken very seriously by this crowd. If they already have solar energy panels on their roofs, then these dryers will work efficiently and save energy. For all the other regulars, make sure to check out the reviews and talk to people who already have these machines. There are definitely safety features to consider but at the same time remember that any new technology still needs to be perfected.

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